Gaming increases craving to gaming-related stimuli in individuals with Internet gaming disorder (2017)

Biological Psychiatry: Cognitive Neuroscience and Neuroimaging (2017).

Guangheng Dong, Lingxiao Wang, Xiaoxia Du, Marc N. Potenza




Internet gaming disorder (IGD) has been proposed as a behavioral addiction warranting additional investigation. Craving is considered a core component of addictions. However, few studies to date have investigated craving in IGD. In the current study, we investigated how gaming was associated with changes in response to gaming-related stimuli in IGD subjects and those with recreational game use (RGU).


Behavioral and fMRI data were collected from 27 individuals with IGD and 43 with RGU. Subjects’ craving responses to gaming-related stimuli were measured before and after 30 minutes of gaming.


The comparison between post- and pre-gaming measures showed that, for IGD, gaming was associated with increased craving and increased brain activation of the lateral and prefrontal cortex, the striatum, and the precuneus when exposed to gaming-related stimuli. In individuals with RGU, no enhanced brain activity was observed.


These results suggest that gaming behavior enhances craving responses in IGD but not in RGU subjects, provide insight into potential mechanisms underlying IGD and suggest behavioral and neurobiological targets for IGD-related interventions.


Internet gaming disorder, recreational gaming use, craving, fMRI, prefrontal cortex, striatum


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